Does God promise and not fulfil?

Numbers 23:19 tells us, 

‘God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak, and not act? Does He promise and not fulfil?’  

The quote is interesting.  The Word of God says God keeps His word, His promises.   Does that hold true in real life?   What about God’s promise to Abraham – the land of Canaan (present day Israel) would belong to Abraham’s descendants?  See Genesis 15:18-21; Joshua 1:4

The land God promised to Abraham’s descendants was larger than what the Jews today describe as Israel.  The Jews have been robbed of their land by various means.  So did God change His mind or fail to fulfil His promise?  

No!  A holy God cannot promise and not deliver.  That would be completely antithetical with God’s character.  Can God fulfil His promise to Abraham on the new heaven and earth?  No!  The present old earth will be destroyed by fire and renewed.  With no sea it will be one universal kingdom without borders that fills the whole earth.    

The last book of Scripture, Revelation, reveals the thousand year reign of Christ.  That is when Christ will return and rule the whole (old) earth from Jerusalem.  The borders of Israel will be as God promised to Abraham.  So the Millennium is an essential ‘component’ of God’s plan.  It explains how God will fulfil His promises to Abraham and others.  It also explains a very interesting verse in Psalm 2.  More about that will follow. 

The message of the Millennium

Revelation 20 mentions the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.  It is called the Millennium.  We might easily miss it, since it (apparently) comprises only seven verses. 

John wrote,   

‘And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended.’  Revelation 20:1-3

  The devil is a mighty ‘warrior’ against God.  Yet an ordinary angel comes down from heaven with a key and a chain.  It is an amazing scene where the ‘mighty’ devil is seized and thrown into a dungeon (Abyss) so he cannot deceive the nations for that thousand years. 

During the millennium Jesus will reign in Jerusalem.  The world will be very different. There will be peace, harmony and fruitfulness.  For example, 

‘The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them.’  Isaiah 11:6

Personally we thought that Jesus’ thousand year reign was just something ‘small.’  So  the following quote from a book shocked us out of our socks, 

‘A larger portion of prophetic Scripture is devoted to the subject of the Millennium, developing its character and conditions, than any other one subject [in the Bible].’  1 

We want to look more closely at this theme.  Especially since it is Easter and we remember that it is because of the Victory of Jesus on the Cross that He got the right to rule from His beloved Father.  

Reference

1. J Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, Zondervan Publishing House, 1964, p 476

The King on the Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.

There are people who question why Jesus had to die?  Could God who is Almighty not just forgive everybody’s sins, set up His perfect eternal Kingdom and get finished with it?  Well, God illustrates throughout the Word that the Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.  Revelation 20 shows the last part of God’s brilliance in the Millennium.  It  is much more important than it seems.

Why is it necessary for Christ to reign a thousand years?  

  • By that time many of us will be in heaven with father Abraham and will look forward to the second resurrection and the new heavens and earth.  So why do we have to wait another thousand years for God’s eternal reign of peace, happiness, safety and prosperity?
  • It is God’s way to illustrate that a perfect environment and even a perfect Ruler will not guarantee a perfect society.  You also need citizens with one special characteristic – loyalty.  
  • So let’s take a bird’s eye view of three of the stages of God’s plan: 

1.  A perfect environment in the Garden of Eden – failed.

  • Genesis 2 is a picture of a perfect environment with full provision for Adam and Eve with a daily visit from God.   
  • Yet the minute the serpent arrived on the scene, they defected from God and chose to follow and obey Satan.  So the devil became the ruler of the world. 1

2.  A perfect set of instructions for the Israelites – failed.

  • God called Abram, and promised him a country and descendants.  They became the nation of Israel with extensive laws to show them how to live to please God.  
  • In spite of all God’s instructions, they defected from Him and served the gods of the people left in Canaan.  
  • Even circumcision of the body was not sufficient to help them remain loyal to God. 

3.  A perfect Ruler in Christ’s thousand year reign – failed. 

  • Who could be a better ruler than Jesus Himself who is sinless?  Would His subjects remain loyal if they could see His face?  Revelation 20:1-6 explains Christ’s thousand year reign.  
  • It will happen after the approximate 4,000 years of the Old Testament time and the approximate 2,000 years of the New Testament time (6,000 years of world history recorded in the Bible).  Then there is that seventh period of a thousand years.  
  • When it begins an angel binds the devil with a big chain and locks him in the Abyss for the full thousand years. 2     
  • Isaiah 11:6 tells us what it will be like: ‘The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat….’ 
  • After the thousand years Satan will be released and immediately he, ‘…will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth.’ 3  
  • Will the people stay loyal to their perfect King, Jesus? No! Revelation 20:8 reveals the magnitude of discontent with Jesus.  Those who join the devil: ‘In number they are like the sand on the seashore.’ 
  • What happened to those who did not like Jesus’ rulership? ‘…fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.’ 4   

Conclusion 

  • The Millennium proves that the Cross of Jesus is the necessary ‘ingredient’ for the eternal Kingdom of God.  The only way that people will be able to remain loyal to God eternally is if their hearts are changed.
  • On the Cross Jesus died for our sins and so cut away our old sinful nature (He circumcised our hearts).  The King on the Cross regenerated the hearts of those who embrace Him, to remain loyal to God.  
  • The Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.  

References

  1. Revelation 9:12  
  2. Revelation 20:1-2  
  3. Revelation 20:7  
  4. Revelation 20:9b-10
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